The merger and acquisition (M&A) accountants have pored over the spreadsheets, and their conclusion is that 1999 was a record year for cross-border deals. The value of international M&As increased to US$798 billion, a 47% increase from $541 billion in 1998, reports London-based KPMG Corporate Finance, a unit of KPMG International. Western Europe was the most active part of the world, recording $582 billion worth of deals. Second place went to the U.S., with $155 billion worth of activity. Germany (with $93 billion), France ($92 billion), and the Netherlands ($44 billion) rounded out the top five countries. "Yet again, center-stage attention is shared by Europe and North America, particularly the UK and [the] U.S., in our view reinforcing the message that the transparent economies and developed capital markets of countries in those regions are proving [to be] a stronger platform from which to launch cross-border M&A deals," says David Beever, international chairman of KPMG Corporate Finance. Worth noting as well: Asia and the Pacific became a net buyer of businesses in 1999, attracting $56 billion worth of corporate investment from cross-border deals while investing $33 billion elsewhere. "It is particularly pleasing to find, as the millennium closed, [economies] such as Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong returning to the global M&A scene as both buyers and sellers," says Beever. "For the emerging markets [in Asia and the Pacific], however, the picture remains bleak; investors continue to have real concerns about prudent investments in these countries."